Book Review

Scrinnameless and The Sharing Knife: Chapters 4-10

Title: The Sharing Knife
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold

Book CoverScrinnameless, who I call “Scrin” for short, is a 22 year-old geology student who is curious about romance, and at my suggestion has taken to reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife: Beguilement. Here we have Chapters 4-10:

Chapter 4

In which we find out about malices. And more about Dag.

It’s a nice bit of monster-building, the malice. I could go on, but let’s say they’re thieves of life who start out small, learn as they grow, and can get nasty. Inherently evil, one might say.

Found out where the title comes from. Apparently, sharing knives are the weapons used to kill malices.

And, to my glee, the bit where he throws her his pair of sharing knives to kill the malice just goes and proves that Dag says what’s going through his head at the moment. There’s two knives in two sheaths bound together, right? She asks him which. He just says, “Sharp end first! Anywhere!

So she uses the wrong knife at first.

Anyway, something in this chapter happens that I really wasn’t expecting. I’ll say this: Forget evil. Malices are unholy.

Chapter 5
Okay, you know what? After 61 pages, I care about the characters. For a start, I can identify with Dag’s erratic thought processes quite a bit. I’m ADHD; God knows my brain jitters around from thought to thought and moment to moment, too. (He’s also been nothing but a decent guy so far. Furthermore, he’s a decent guy with colorful dialogue.)

Fawn’s not bad, either. She’s pretty serious, it seems, and she learns from her mistakes. I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m rooting for them.

Anyway, the sharing knives are explained here. Pretty cool concept, though I don’t need to geek out about it in detail. It makes sense, and it’s got a certain logic to it.

Chapter 6-8

Well, okay. Now comes the awkward part for me as a reader. They’re both dancing around each other. She admires and respects and is totally comfortable with him. He’s all too aware of what she’s feeling—life-sense, remember—and is trying to keep a certain detachment towards her. It’s not easy for him.

And she mistakes his resolute silence—which he’s doing to keep from saying something he shouldn’t—for just tiredness. Despite getting pregnant, this woman’s still got some naivity to wear off.

Chapter 9

Just some plot development, and some revelations on Dag’s past. Nothing too earthshaking as yet. By now I’m reading to finish the story. I did kind of expectthe Lakewalkers wouldn’t all be stand-up people, though.

Chapter 10

Well, I’m revising a mental conception about the Lakewalkers. The more I read, the more I find out they’re organized along military lines.

More importantly, this is where Dag’s having his crisis about what to do about Fawn. Some of his silent self-criticisms seem like he wonders why people place so much trust in him.

Which is relevant. See, in the past, Dag had a bad day that cost him everything he valued—including relatively unimportant things (in his view), like his left hand. The point is the disaster maimed Dag, emotionally as well as physically. He still regrets it, but he’s long since gotten to the point where he can deal with it—except he hadn’t ever expected to feel certain things again.

(It just occurred to me that his physical maiming matches his emotional one, given that the heart’s on the left side. That’s a very neat parallel, but I could be just imagining the symbolism.)

Now those thought-dead emotions are being resurrected, and he’s having a hell of a time coping with them—when he’s in his forties.

Poor guy.

Granted, the read-a-log’s are heavy on the plot summary, but I so enjoy reading a person’s reaction to that plot, and how they recognize some of the romance constructs of the book. Thanks, Scrin!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Estara says:

    Congratulations, Scrinnameless, on showing me exactly how you develop in enjoying the book without giving away any of the major spoilers to the plot ^^. I really enjoy reading your analysis here. I hope you’ll enjoy all four books, eventually.

  2. 2
    FD says:

    Scrinnameless, this being Bujold, I can tell you that the symbolism is always intentional.  Whenever adventuring into a Bujoldverse, check your assumptions at the door!

  3. 3
    joykenn says:

    Ah, ha, Bujold has hooked another one!  She’s a great writer for both developing her characters and her plot.  I must have re-read Cordelia’s Honor 6 times.  She’s good with developing plots with not just romantic love but devotion of all types.  Honor, duty and doing the right thing are important to her heroines as are their feelings.  Nice dose of Bujold can take the cloying taste of immature and somewhat selfcentered heroines away (not that I don’t enjoy a bit of cotton candy now and then but too much…ugh).

  4. 4
    Jessa Slade says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed these books too. I can see how they’d be a good intro for a new fantasy romance reader with the deft turns of the romance embedded in the plot and character development. No random acts of sexy here; it’s all seamless.

  5. 5
    Suze says:

    I second Estara.  That’s a really good summary of the essentials, without giving any spoiling details away.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Bujold.  I don’t really understand people who DON’T enjoy Bujold.  I think there’s something wrong with them.

  6. 6
    Julianna says:

    I’ve been working my way through all the A-reviewed books on SBTB, and Scrin’s account bumped this one to the top.  I’ve been racing through them at top speed.  My library system has about 30 of each of them, so I haven’t had any trouble getting them – Passage, the third, is on its way to my local branch now.  In a burst of insight, I realised that there’s no way I’d want to wait for #4, and went online to put a hold on it.  I am twenty-fucking-eighth in line.  Pity me.  It just came out a month ago!  Who knew?

    I am so fond of the first book -the chapters after Fawn’s injury are wonderful.

  7. 7
    Gemma says:

    I’m a fair bit peeved that the fourth in the series is out in dead-tree version, but is not yet released as an ebook. What kind of stupid system is that? I’ve got 1, 2 and 3 in ebook, why would I suddenly want to switch to hardback-shipped-from-abroad for the final instalment?

  8. 8
    Molly says:

    To answer Gemma: Unlike Baen, publisher of Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels, Eos doesn’t simultaneously publish eBook & hardcopy.

  9. 9
    ev says:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Bujold.  I don’t really understand people who DON’T enjoy Bujold.  I think there’s something wrong with them.

    Or there is just something more right with the ones who do??? LOL

  10. 10
    Teresa says:

    Gemma, the e-book version of Book 4 came out today at

    Pity me, I am still waiting on the audiobook version. Although, I really need to get a copy from the library, and then buy a copy of the audiobook to re-listen to.  That would only be the 3rd time to listen to all the books. Thats not too compulsive it is?

  11. 11
    Micki says:

    I’m really interested in seeing the guy’s reaction to romance. (-: Scrin, you know that you are now representing all Mandom to me, so I hope it doesn’t cramp your style!

    The comment about Fawn being naive for not knowing that Dag was romantically pining instead of “just tired” really perked up my inner radar. (-: It took me about 10 years of marriage to tell the difference between “just tired” and “brooding.” I still get it wrong on a regular basis! (Although, unlike Fawn, I tend to over-emotionalize the thing, rather than under-emotionalize it.)

    I am looking forward to the next installment!

  12. 12
    Kes says:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Bujold.  I don’t really understand people who DON’T enjoy Bujold.  I think there’s something wrong with them.

    I think there’s a strong correlation between Cordelia’s Honor fans and Sharing Knife fans. For my part, if I’d read either CH or the SK books first, I doubt I’d have kept on seeking out Bujold. I got tired quickly of the (how to put it non-specifically?) inter-generational interpersonal conflicts
    in Beguilement and Legacy. I was much happier when I came to Passage, where things finally happened.

    I want more Miles! I want action!

  13. 13
    Jane says:

    I think there’s a strong correlation between Cordelia’s Honor fans and Sharing Knife fans.

    I don’t know, Kes.  I *loved* all the early books in the Vorkosigan series, especially the Cordelia-centered ones, but am kind of meh about the Sharing Knife series.  In fact I feel guilty, being the Bujold fanatic that I am, for not having read the whole series – I was so meh that I just gave up after the first one.
    Too much romance and not enough action for me, I think.

  14. 14
    Suze says:

    I think there’s a strong correlation between Cordelia’s Honor fans and Sharing Knife fans.

    It would be interesting to see some actual statistics.  I LOVED Shards of Honor (part 1 of Cordelia’s Honor) when it first came out in my late teens.  I like the Sharing Knife (I’m halfway through the 4th book), but it’s not my fave.  Nor is Falling Free.

    However, “not my fave” in terms of Bujold is that I’ll re-read them only once every 5 years, rather than every 1-2 years, as I do for the Vorkosigan series and the Chalion series.

    Mostly I love how Bujold puts words together, and creates compelling people and worlds with such depth and truth and empathy.  I can’t think of any other writer who could create somebody like Miles and make him so appealing.

    She created a backwards, militaristic, sexist, mostly offensive kind of society in Barrayar, and makes me root for them every time.  I’d be boggled, if I wasn’t so busy being awed.

    size18:  Hah!  I wish!

  15. 15
    Gary Jordan says:

    Kes said:

    I want more Miles! I want action!

    Kes, are you male or female? That’s a stereotypical male response [grin]

    Micki said

    Scrin, you know that you are now representing all Mandom to me

    Hey, what are I? Chopped liver? I like my romances, I do. I like SF&F, too. The intersection is fantastic.

    I think the only romance Heinlein ever wrote was The Menace From Earth. He’s the author who matches Bujold’s Hugo and Nebula awards.

    Eric Flint is noted for putting romances as subthemes in his Science Fiction.  It seems he was infected with “romance cooties” (his words, honest) at a bookstore.

  16. 16
    Rosa says:

    This is so awesome. I keep giving away copies of Sharing Knife & Cordelia’s Honor, and my giftees are never this articulate about what they like or don’t like.

    Is there somewhere people are talking about Horizon? (the 4th one). Reading it made me re-think the aboutness of the entire series, which at first seemed to revisit a lot of the themes about parenthood and change that were in the Vorkosigan books.

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